Fiedler co-hosts rally for after school programs

HARRISBURG, May 4 – On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network held an advocacy day at the state Capitol. State Reps. Elizabeth Fiedler, D-Phila., and Doyle Heffley, R-Carbon, co-chairs of the PA House Afterschool Caucus, joined them on the Capitol steps to rally for afterschool programs in Pennsylvania.

Speakers at the rally included:

    • Contrell Armor, PSAYDN director.
    • Lt. Gov. Austin Davis.
    • State Sen. Lynda Schlegel-Culver, R-Columbia/Luzerne/Montour/Northumberland/Snyder.
    • State Sen. Mike Regan, R-Cumberland/York.
    • Youth Keynote, Neha Shukla, Flight Crew Million Girls Moonshot.
    • Youth Speaker, Enjalai Baillie, Harrisburg High School, Sci-Tech and PFEW.
    • Youth Speaker, Aliyah Webster, chief science officer, Minersville Area Jr./Sr. High School.
    • Youth Speaker, Sean Jackson, Braddock Hills High School, Pittsburgh.
    • Youth Co-Speakers, Aaron Pravs & Nasir Harrison, South Philadelphia High School.
    • Provider Speaker; Amy Burrows, assistant director of Propel Afterschool Programs, 2022 PSAYDN Afterschool Champion for Outstanding Quality.
    • State Rep. Michael Schlossberg, D-Lehigh.

Fiedler stressed the importance of afterschool programs to mentor young people and prevent violence.

“At a time when violence has been increasing, we need to invest in high quality out-of-school-time programs that provide kids with safe places to develop and be mentored,” Fiedler said. “Quality afterschool and summer programs are too rare in Pennsylvania, and the skilled professionals that run these programs are so underpaid and underappreciated that they often can’t afford to stay in the profession. That’s why I’m fighting for dedicated, recurring funding from the state.”

Heffley touted the success of many afterschool programs and how important they are to students.

“Afterschool programs, like the SHINE Program in Carbon County, focus on hands-on learning helping students with homework and after school projects,” Heffley said. “The successes of this program are reflective in a student’s GPA and classroom participation. Students are also able to learn about and participate in STEM programs. I support the expansion of quality and accountable after school programs.” 

Davis expressed how critical out-of-school programs are for young people across Pennsylvania.

“Out-of-school-time programs are so critical for the development of young people and so beneficial to our communities,” Davis said. “These programs help remove obstacles in the lives of young people and serve as experiential learning opportunities. I’m proud to support the incredible work they are doing in communities across Pennsylvania.”

Schlossberg said investing “real money” could help Pennsylvania kids once they leave school.

“Afterschool programming is simultaneously incredibly important and woefully underfunded,” Schlossberg said. “With real money, we could invest in our kids’ lives once they left school, ensuring that they were safe, cared for and given the resources they need to be successful.”

Schlossberg, with co-sponsor state Rep. Kathleen C. Tomlinson, R-Bucks, has introduced legislation that would create the Building Opportunity through Out-of-School Time Program. The legislation would create a dedicated, sustainable funding stream from the General Fund to support quality Out of School programs for kids in every Pennsylvania Zip code.

Vincent Litrenta, executive director of Sunrise of Philadelphia, stressed how much after school programs work.

“We see every day that afterschool programs work – they work for kids, they work for parents, they work for communities. We see that they work everywhere – rural, urban, and suburban neighborhoods,” said Litrenta. "We're so grateful for the work and advocacy of Representative Fiedler and others who have been champions for our programs and champions for the kids that need them in Philadelphia and beyond."

The PA House Afterschool Caucus also announced that they’re launching a statewide site tour of programs that offer out-of-school-time services.

The dates and locations for those tours are:

May 9, 3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.

SHINE Afterschool Program

680 4th St., Palmerton PA, 18071

 May 11, 4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Sunrise of Philadelphia at Southwark Elementary School

1834 S. 9th St., Philadelphia,19148

May 31, 4 p.m.

Early Newcomer Academy

1394 Walnut St., Allentown, PA 18102

June 8, 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Bedford Middle School

440 E. Watson St., Bedford, PA, 15522

Video from Wednesday’s rally can be viewed here and photos here.